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Doing the Impossible- Miss Santa Clara

“Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and soon you will be doing the impossible.”

Taylor Yamane crowned Miss Santa ClaraI had never competed in a pageant before. This was my first time, and it took so much of my courage to apply because it felt like such a risk. I watched Miss America every year since I was a little girl, but never in a million years did I think I would participate in a pageant, let alone actually win one! I never thought I was skinny enough or a nerdy engineer like me belonged in the pageant world. I realized, I have spent my entire life breaking down walls that people put up before me, and this pageant could be my chance to change even more stereotypes.

I grew up on a farm in a small town in eastern Washington. I was raised by my farmer father, who is full Japanese, and my mother who is Irish, French, and Native American. It is safe to say my town had a very small Asian population. One day in kindergarten, a girl came up to me and told me that I wasn’t allowed to play with my fair-skinned, blond, and blue-eyed friends because my hair and my skin were too dark. Obviously in kindergarten, I never thought of myself as different from the other kids, but at that moment I realized I was different. I didn’t look like the other kids I went to school with, and my home life and traditions were much different than those of my friends (I was shocked when I found out not everyone had a rice cooker in their house!). As I got older, these differences become more prominent and easy for me to recognize. I decided to embrace those differences instead of letting them hold me back.

Taylor Yamane Miss Santa ClaraI was stereotyped a lot especially during middle school and high school, but I did not want to live in a world where I was inhibited by the social confines of what people thought I should and should not be good at just because of my appearance. I was the girl who sang the national anthem for her own varsity basketball games and track meets. I was a 5’3” hurdler in high school and a dang good one too! I was a district champion, a state qualifier, and I would beat girls in the high hurdlers who were 6 feet tall, with legs as tall as me, and built like hurdlers. People looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to run the hurdles because I was so short. I also auditioned for and the received the part of the red-headed Annie in our high school’s musical production of Annie when I was a sophomore! I received so many funny looks when I told people I would be playing Annie in our high school’s musical until they heard me sing. Even coming to college in California, where the culture is so diverse with so many people from all walks of life, I was still felt set apart from the crowd as a female engineering student. I had to fight for my respect here and to show that women are just as smart and talented as men in STEM fields. I have decided no matter what people say, I am going to live my own life and accomplish the things that I want to accomplish and not let anything stand in my way.

Taylor Yamane HurdlesI had to use this same mentality when competing for Miss Santa Clara. My engineering friends thought I was joking when I said I would be competing in a pageant. They did not think a pageant was a place for engineers because they only thought of pageants as a competition to see who is prettier and can do their makeup the best when it is SO much more than that! It is a scholarship program where anyone who wants to compete can, and anyone can have the chance to win. With my title, I want to break down the walls and stereotypes that come with the word “pageant”. I am the last person I ever thought would win a pageant, and I want people to know that you can be an engineer and still wear the crown. I plan to use my title as Miss Santa Clara to share my story and show that if this small-town, farm girl can become an engineer AND Miss Santa Clara, then absolutely nothing is impossible with hard work and dedication!

How Entering A Contest For A Sparkly Hat (Unknowingly) Changed My Life And Can Change Yours Too

I remember watching my hometown’s local pageant since I was a little girl and when I was 17, I entered and learned that I actually knew very little about what these pageants actually entailed. If there’s one thing I’ve realized over the past few years that I’ve been involved in the Miss America Organization, it’s that you will begin to undergo a transformation into the very best version of yourself. Just by entering a local competition for the Miss America Organization (you don’t even have to win!), you will gain the following:

 

Jill Santos Miss Napa County graduateScholarship– As one of the largest scholarship providers to young women in the world, the Miss America Organization has paid for over half of my college education to date. I finished my undergraduate studies in 2.5 years, and this would not have been possible, nor affordable, had I not gained the scholarships from this organization. Many local preliminaries will guarantee every contestant a scholarship just for participating. If you do happen to win the title, there are even further opportunities to gain scholarships through awards, advertisement sales, placement, and more.

 

Jill with former Miss Napa County winnersSisters– You will meet the most incredible like-minded women who are passionate about their communities, their education, and their careers. You will meet your closest friends, find a second family. The Miss America Organization defies the stigma of a stereotypical “pageant girl” because the women I’ve met are some of the most intelligent, talented, and kind people I have known.

 

Professional Skills– Before entering a local competition, contestants must complete paperwork including a Resume and a Platform Statement, providing the opportunity to work on resume and writing skills. In addition to this, the interview and onstage question portions of competition teach us how to communicate effectively and think on the spot. As titleholders, we are required to attend public events, speaking engagements, interviews, and the like, which tests these skills even more. We are taught to communicate effectively to voice our thoughts and opinions in a professional way while still remaining personable. Participating in pageants has taught me confidence in speaking to and with people from all different walks of life. After graduating college, I was never nervous to attend job interviews, conference calls, presentations, and networking events in my professional life because of the experiences the Miss America Organization had offered.Jill Santos Miss Napa County speaks

 

Personal Skills– All contestants in the Miss America Organization choose a personal “platform,” a good cause for which they volunteer their time and promote in their communities. My platform is “Music Therapy for the Elderly”, a cause I choose to promote because of my passions and life experiences. In a way, this has been a “platform” throughout my entire life that this organization has allowed to come to fruition. Having a platform encourages contestants to get involved in the causes we are passionate about on a greater scale, bringing personal action and passion to community change. Your platform will allow you to increase your voice, establish yourself as active member in your community, and fuel your passion to follow your dreams. The work I have done with my platform has brought me the happiest experiences, the most creative ideas, and the hope to create my own nonprofit in the future.

 

Jill Santos Miss Napa CountyThere are so many reasons other why I advocate for the Miss America Organization, but these are some of the major ones that have truly transformed my life. Sure, I can stick on false lashes and walk in 5 inch heels now, but more than that, I attribute so much of my educational success, professional success, and life skills to this organization. Others who are or have been involved in the Miss America a Organization will share similar positive experiences. For those who are unfamiliar with this organization, I hope I have opened your mind, or at least offered a different perspective, to pageantry. I hope you consider getting yourself, your sister, or your friend involved in the Miss America Organization.  You will gain the scholarship, sisterhood, professional skills, and personal skills I described, and so much more. The crown is just icing on the cake.

Nothing But Gratitude and Goals- Miss North Bay

Molly Crawford Miss san diego, Molly Crawford San Diego State University

Courtesy of Hart Photography

I am an undergraduate, full-time student at San Diego State University studying Journalism and Media Studies with an emphasis in Public Relations, and a minor in Dance. I would not have had the means or courage to pursue my dream of higher education had I not taken the leap to compete in my first Miss America’s Outstanding Teen local pageant in 2010. I’m proud of who I am and who I am becoming, and the Miss America Organization is an integral part of that.

Molly Crawford Miss North BayOne of the most invigorating parts of being a local titleholder is attempting to live each day in embodiment of the Four Points of the crown: Scholarship, Style, Service and Success. College is one of the most challenging yet exciting goals I have ever set for myself. I take pride in my status as a student, remain eager to learn and be successful in my academic career. Nothing feels better than giving your school the scholarship dollars this organization provides. My personal style has evolved fluidly throughout my journey. It has become representative of where I’ve been, where I am at currently, and where I am pointing my arrow next. I am firm believer in the influence of everyday surroundings on the way you style yourself. My style projects an image of me that is representative of my adolescence in the Bay Area and my early adulthood in San Diego. My platform is called Perfect Imperfection: Body Positivity and Respect. I created this movement to inspire a culture of respect and positivity when we talk about our bodies and their differences, particularly among children and teenagers. Serving my community in this way has allowed me to contribute to the Body Positive movement. Success is something I strive for in every part of my life with each day I pursue my dreams.  

Courtesy of Hart Photography

Courtesy of Hart Photography

If I could add a fifth point to the crown, it would be Sisterhood. Beyond the scholarship and the opportunity for personal development, the Miss America Organization provides a place for people to connect and create long lasting relationships with some of the world’s best people. I have found some of the most wonderful friends in the contestants, volunteers and sponsors I’ve had the opportunity to work with and get to know. I have found so many people who inspire me to push myself, be kind and to remain grounded in my purpose. I am an advocate of empowering others due, in large part, to the people I have met through the Miss America Organization. The sisterhood is strong, influential and so very real.

Molly Crawford Dancing Miss North BayBeing a Miss America local titleholder affords women endless, incredible opportunities that are extraordinarily unmatched. There are obvious perks, like the scholarship money each contestant is awarded, the chance to make a difference in our communities, and the ability to train professional, social and emotional skills in the field on a regular basis. “Adulting” is my favorite way to put it. This organization gives women scholarship money in exchange for the chance of a lifetime. I have spent the last seven years competing in this organization because my involvement in is directly tied to the accomplishments from all facets of my life.

I am honored to be Miss North Bay 2018. Being a Children’s Miracle Network Ambassador, and an advocate for body positivity and respect is an absolute dream come true that I am fully engaged in. I am diving into this year of service with gusto, courage and so many ideas I can’t wait to manifest. Follow me at @MissNorthBay on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with my journey!

Tiny But Mighty- Miss Bay Area

Ashley Nelson Miss Bay AreaGrowing up I have always been looked down upon… literally. My short stature has always made me feel in some way inadequate. For example, in certain buildings, the mirrors are placed too high and all I can see is the top of my head. Also, some eye holes in doors are too high for me to look through.

In addition, when people first meet me they say you’re so “cute”, because you’re so “tiny”. When I was younger I took these comments graciously, but as I became older, I wanted to be noticed for more than just my height when people first met me. I wanted to be noticed and remembered for my confidence and how personable I was, rather than just my small stature.

Ashley Nelson Miss Placentia's Outstanding TeenEntering the Miss America Organization gave me the opportunity to do so. I was a fairly new teenager coming into this program and it was around the time I truly wanted to find out who I was as a person. After holding my first title as Miss Placentia’s Outstanding Teen 2015, I gained so many qualities that boosted my confidence and pushed me to be a better representative of not only myself, but of something greater than myself. I learned that I am not just what is on the outside, but I am so much more than that. I am a strong, independent woman who has her own opinion and can stand in a room and exude an inviting essence.

Ashley Nelson MIss Bay Area 2018I’m so grateful for the Miss America Program for giving me the opportunity to find out who I am while representing the cities I love. Winning the titles of Miss Placentia’s Outstanding Teen 2015 and now, Miss Bay Area 2018 proved not only to myself of my capabilities, but also how unique this organization is. It is purely about who the women are on the inside, and shows it is not in search for a cookie cutter type. It promotes diversity and individuality, and I am honored to be part of this organization. I hope to grow even more as a woman this year as Miss Bay Area 2018 and I cannot wait for the experiences I will gain.

I know now, that I am not just a five foot girl who only sees the top of her head in mirrors, but I am a confident and successful woman, and I owe that all to the Miss America Program.  

Miss Garden Grove- Where Sash Meets Science

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Volunteering at USC-affiliated Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles

When I share that I am pursuing a career in medicine while wearing a sparkly accessory (albeit one that is perhaps not the most inconspicuous), I often get a few raised eyebrows. For some, it can be understandably difficult to reconcile the two and imagine how two seemingly different worlds could mesh together. But having traversed both paths, I can attest that the two worlds are inextricably linked and each arena compliments and enhances the other. Having gone from a complete outsider to now a staunch supporter of the mission and values of this organization, I can share firsthand the impact the Miss America Organization has made on me.

Sarah Bui Miss Garden Grove
The Miss America Organization is founded on four principles, also known as the “four points of the crown”: Service, Scholarship, Style, and Success. This multifaceted foundation enabled me to be a better public servant and has equipped me for a lifelong devotion to service in medicine. The medical vocation is most notably marked by a relentless commitment to advocating for others. I am most grateful to the Miss America Organization for allowing me the opportunity to do exactly that each and every day as Miss Garden Grove. Not only am I privileged to be a voice for my hometown at large, but I am also blessed to meet community members from all walks of life. From the precious kids at our Children’s Miracle Network hospitals to the devoted members of our Garden Grove community service groups, every child, parent, and public servant has shaped me by sharing their story. I met a woman who shared how the Pink Door Salon, our incredible local (and state!) sponsor, had changed her life by helping her heal and regrow her hair after experiencing alopecia areata symptoms. By taking the time to hear her journey and healing process, I better understood how we as healthcare providers can empathize with and advocate for our patients. Connecting with the Garden Grove community continues to mold my vision for what it means to serve, care, and advocate well both at the individual and community scale.

The very people that I am privileged to serve are the ones who have generously supported my academic journey and helped me to attain my Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Southern California in three years. In addition to awarding scholarships, this organization has given me the tools to help me hone my public speaking and communication skills in professional and diplomatic settings.

Steve Jones, the Mayor of Garden Grove, is also an USC alum!

Steve Jones, the Mayor of Garden Grove, is also an USC alum!

Success looks different to each individual. Personally, I experience success in investing and sowing into relationships – from my Garden Grove neighbors and friends, to the people I meet from all over the world. Each of us have the ability to sow into relationships and lift up those around us, with or without a title. That being said, it has been an honor to have a platform to mentor and empower the youth in my community, and to learn from those who have gone before me.

The past few years have remarkably transformed my outlook and vision of what it means to truly have a servant’s heart. I can’t wait to see what growth, challenges, and blessings lie ahead in this coming year.

 

 

Excited to share this journey with you all – join me on Facebook and Instagram at @missgardengrove to stay in touch!

 

Yours truly,

Sarah Bui

Miss Garden Grove 2018

Miss California Executive Director to Facebook Live Jan 4, 2018 7pm PST

Join us (1)Have questions about what has been happening?  Just have questions about the Miss California Organization?  Want to learn more about State Finals in June?

I will be hosting a Q and A session on Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 7pm on Facebook.com/MissCAorg.

If you have something you really want addressed, please email me this week at Patricia@MissCalifornia.org and I will include the topic at the beginning before the Q and A.

Some of the topics I will address:

  1. The current situation of the Miss America BOD, the Miss Americas and the state executive directors with regard to the national organization.
  2. The current situation of the national competition.
  3. The current  state of the Miss California Organization.
  4. Our State License with Miss America – what we have to live by as a state.
  5. The current state of our contestant and volunteer protection policies for the Miss California Organization.
  6. The road to Miss California and Miss California’s OT 2018.
    1. Doubletree and Fresno
    2. Age changes
    3. Orientation 2018
    4. Ad Page Sales
    5. CMN fundraising
    6. Scholarship expectations
    7. Production news
    8. State Final Competition
      1. Judges brief for both Miss and Teen
      2. Our expectations for Miss California and Miss California’s OT.
    9. Princess Program
    10. MAOT Prep
    11. MAO Prep

I will add to this list as you send me topics that you want me to address.  Can’t wait to chat with everyone on Thursday!

Happy New Year!

Patricia Murray

CEO/Executive Director